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Wednesday, January 5, 2005

  • Vigil today responds to tsunami
  • Student seats available on senate
  • A chilly end to a chilly year
  • Co-op jobs and other notes
Chris Redmond

International Year of Microcredit

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  • Vigil today responds to tsunami

    As the university reopened yesterday for the winter term, the world's news was dominated by the aftermath of the December 26 tsunami that is now thought to have killed at least 150,000 people in the lands surrounding the Indian Ocean.

    The concern was deepest for students who come from the affected countries, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, as well as staff and faculty with connections there.

    Drew Knight of UW's international programs office said at midday yesterday that he did not think any of UW's formal international programs were affected. "Of course there may be individual faculty members involved," he added. Information about the effects of the tidal wave, which followed a massive undersea earthquake, has been slow in arriving because of serious damage to local infrastructure.

    "Indonesia is crying," said an e-mail message that reached Bruce Mitchell, associate provost and professor of geography, shortly after the disaster. Mitchell has visited Indonesia many times and helped to lead a multi-year project, based at UW and York University, on environmental sustainability in that country -- the world's fourth largest.

    A decade ago Mitchell explained that the goal of his project was "to help Indonesians develop policies to improve and modernize their economy without threatening the environment or the traditional culture." And yesterday he said he could see encouraging proof of success, as he was hearing from colleagues at Indonesian universities where local expertise now exists and is being mobilized to help with relief and rebuilding of the devastated areas.

    Particularly hard-hit by the tsunami was the little country of Sri Lanka, where much of Canada's disaster relief assistance has been directed in the past few days. Recovery there has been complicated by ethnic tension between the majority Sinhalese, who dominate the national government, and the Tamil minority, many of whom have sought to set up a separate state in the north and east.

    The Waterloo Tamil Student Association is already involved in raising funds to help with the devastation in Tamil areas of the island. The group is organizing a "vigil" in the Student Life Centre today from noon to 2:00.

    Says an announcement: "The Vigil will be composed of prayers, short speeches, sharing of personal and direct experiences by Waterloo students that were in the region when the disaster struck and also by local students who have directly lost families and relatives. Moreover, there will be a short video documentary on the situation along with some additional pictures brought back by students.

    "As the depth of the devastation that hit the South Asian Region unfolds, Canadian Tamils are feeling an increased sense of helplessness. The devastation has sent a rippling effect of despondency within our community of who have been directly affected by this insurmountable devastation. The latest death toll within Sri Lanka alone has reached 45,000 and displaced close to one million people. The NGO's on the ground report these figures are likely to grow as the search and recovery work continues.

    "The present resources available in the North and East of Sri Lanka are grotesquely inadequate to address the ever-increasing relief needs for those affected by tsunami disaster. The prospect of an increasing death toll, outbreaks of epidemics, shortages of food and a continued denial of basic living needs for one million people is proving to be a colossal challenge."

    Donations will be accepted at today's event, the Tamil association said.

    Tom Ruttan, director of UW's counselling services, said the department has been hearing from people who need someone to talk to following the news of the disaster, particularly if they're affected directly. "We've opened up some extra spots" in the schedule, he said. "If you would like to speak with someone about this impact," says the counselling web site, "please call us at 888-4567 ext. 2655 or drop by our main office in Needles Hall (across from the Registrar's Office)." The site also notes other locations on campus where counselling is available.

    Student seats available on senate -- a notice from the university secretariat

    Nominations are requested for the following undergraduate student seats on Senate:

  • One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, term from May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2007.
  • One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students in the Faculty of Engineering, term from May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2007.
  • One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students in the Faculty of Environmental Studies/Department of Independent Studies, term from May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2006.
  • One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students in the Faculty of Mathematics, term from May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2007.
  • One student elected by/from the full-time or part-time undergraduate students, term from May 1, 2005 to April 30, 2007.

    Nomination forms are available online or from the Federation of Students office. At least five nominators are required in each case. Completed nomination forms should be submitted to the Chief Returning Officer, Secretariat, NH 3060, no later than 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 18, 2005. Elections, if necessary, will coincide with the annual Federation of Students' elections (February 15-17). A "Close of Nominations" meeting for all candidates is scheduled for Wednesday, January 19, 2005 from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Student Life Centre.

    Student senators completing their terms of office or stepping down as of April 30, 2005 are Amy Jack (AHS), Emma Bardon (Eng), Katherine Johnston (ES/IS), Albert O'Connor (Math) and Liam McHugh-Russell (at-large). All are eligible for re-election.

    Refer to the Secretariat's website for information about Senate and its Committees and Councils.

    [Central green stripe of 'normal' readings]

    Graph of temperature readings through 2004, provided by the UW weather station, showing two colder-than-normal stalactites in December.

    A chilly end to a chilly year

    "For the first time since August we had a colder than average month," writes Frank Seglenieks, coordinator of the UW weather station, reporting on December's ice and snow.

    "Even then," he adds, "it was only a little bit colder than average." And yet the minus-28.7 degrees Celsius recorded on the morning of Monday, December 20, "was the coldest December temperature we have ever had at the weather station," he says, as well as being the coldest temperature of all 2004. "It is also interesting to note that the next day we had a high of 2.5 C, over a 30 degree difference. There are many places in the world that wouldn't see that much of a temperature difference in an entire year and we saw it in one day."

    December saw 106.3 millimetres of precipitation at the weather station on the north campus, well above the average of 73.5 mm in previous Decembers. "We had 23 days of with some precipitation, again more than the average of 18," the report says. " The big storm of the 23rd dropped 27.2 mm of precipitation, which translated into a snowfall of about 23.5 cm."

    Looking back on all of last year, Seglenieks observes that "the top local weather story" was the lack of warm weather through the s summer. "In fact it never went over 30 degrees Celsius the entire year," he notes. "Contrast this with the city of Whitehorse in the Yukon, where according to Environment Canada they had eight consecutive days of above 30 degree temperatures in June. In our area we never got the typical extended period of hot humid weather that sends people into air conditioned buildings and swimming pools.

    "Although most people complained about the summer, a couple of benefits were a reduction in the number of days with smog alerts and generally lush gardens and lawns."

    The graph reproduced above shows the year's temperatures, and a glance indicates a shortage of red marks -- meaning above-average temperatures -- for the summer months. "But," says Seglenieks, "this summer also didn't have an excess of blue portions of the temperature graph (blue indicates lower than average temperatures). This shows that the summer wasn't particularly cold, it just wasn't all that hot.

    "In another strange twist, it was warmer in September than it was in August."

    The graph also shows a generally cold winter, an average spring and a fall that was slightly warmer than average. The year's average daily high temperature of 11.65 C was only a little below the average of 11.86 C in past years. "And interestingly, the average daily low temperature of 1.86 C was actually slightly warmer than the average of 1.67 C." The highest temperature of the year was 29.3 C at 4:15 p.m. on July 15.

    The spring was very wet, with an almost record amount of accumulated precipitation by the end of May, but a few dry periods during the summer and early fall brought the total back closer to the average. The rest of the fall and early winter were close to average, resulting in a final total precipitation of 956.2 mm, slightly above the average of 907.9 mm. The wettest day of the year was July 31, with 40.6 mm of rain.

    Bookstore, UW Shop and TechWorx extended hours, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. continuing through Thursday.

    Imaginus poster sale continues through Friday, Student Life Centre.

    Auditions for this year's FASS production, today through Friday, 7 to 9 p.m., Humanities room 334.

    Perimeter Institute public lecture: David Lindberg, University of Wisconsin at Madison, "Galileo, the Church and the Cosmos", 7 p.m., Waterloo Collegiate Institute, free tickets 569-7600 ext. 6082.

    Orchestra@UWaterloo open rehearsal Thursday 7 p.m., great hall of Ron Eydt Village, register online.

    Volunteer fair Wednesday, January 12, Student Life Centre.

    Co-op jobs and other notes

    The winter work term is under way for co-op students -- most of them, at any rate. The co-op department says that as of December 21, there were 3,777 students with confirmed jobs for this term, out of 4,590 who were scheduled to be on work terms. That's just about exactly the same number with jobs as a year ago (3,775, out of 4,648 who were scheduled for work terms in winter 2004). The employment rate ranged from 92.8 per cent in accounting to 73.5 per cent in science, with engineering at 81.5, very close to the overall figure of 82.3 per cent. Efforts were continuing over the holidays to find jobs for the rest, and there will be still more jobs coming available in the early days of the new year, the department says.

    Friends of Ruth Parker, of the co-op and career services department, are invited to a reception today to mark her retirement. The event runs from 4:30 to 6:30 at the University Club, with presentations scheduled for 5:15. Colleague Olaf Naese notes that Parker is ending 22 years of work developing employment opportunities for co-op students: "Arriving at UW in October, 1982 following a previous career in teaching, she initially focused her efforts toward finding jobs for students in the Teaching Option. Later, CECS restructured and Parker's responsibilities were broadened to include co-op Mathematics. Over the years Parker has been active in the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education and the Ontario Association for Mathematics Educators. She is a co-founder and first chair of University Co-op Educators of Ontario. The highlights of Parker's career in CECS include developing a French Teaching program and a Science Teaching program, writing a book called 'The Co-op Adventure', developing a Career Counselling Model that was the first to acknowledge the self-knowledge to be gained from examining all aspects of the environment of a co-op work term, and obtaining a $250,000 grant from Xerox to subsidize work terms for teaching option students."

    With the new term beginning, thousands of students have financial paperwork to do. The registrar's office says Ontario Student Assistance Program loans, Canada and Ontario Student Loans, and some other provincial loans are available from the Student Awards Office on the second floor of Needles Hall; it's open 8:30 to 4:30, Monday to Friday, like most UW offices.

    And with a new year beginning, there's likely to be a spike in demand for fitness classes. The campus recreation program has plenty to offer for students, and some special offerings for staff and faculty as well, as a memo notes: "There are now two Staff classes for you to take: The Staff Fitness class runs from MWF 12:15 to 1:00 p.m. -- giving you time to get to the PAC, work out and get back to work. It's a great way to stay active while working at UW. Register for the class for $54.50, or buy a Shoe Tag (with the Shoe Tag, you can take any of the regularly-scheduled Fitness classes in the Winter term, including the Staff Fitness). New this term, Campus Recreation is offering a Staff Yoga twice a week. The Staff Yoga will run Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:15 to 1:00 p.m. The class will run for 10 weeks, with no Classes during Reading Week. The class will be $60."

    Nominations are open now, through January 18, for next year's Federation of Students executives and council members. . . . The Feds' used book store, on the lower level of the Student Life Centre, is open from 8 to 6 today through Friday, and 11 to 5 this Saturday, to deal with the beginning-of-term rush. . . . A flyer notes a course that's being offered for the first time this term, Sociology 345, "Cyberspace and Social Life", taught by Lorne Dawson. . . .


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